Tag Archives: montgomerie

The Masters: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in our five of the best at Augusta National

The Masters: An old Golden Bear and a young Tiger plus Faldo, Mickelson and Crenshaw – five of the best at Augusta

PUBLISHED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

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UPDATED:

08:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

The Masters almost always produces dramatic golf worthy of the beautiful backdrop of Augusta National.

Here, Sportsmail picks out five of the most memorable tournaments starting with the legend that is Jack Nicklaus way back in 1986.

1) 1986 – Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus was 46, had not won a tournament in two years or a major in six, and was being written off as a spent force. But the Golden Bear produced one more back-nine charge in the 50th Masters, coming home in 30 for a final round of 65 to beat Greg Norman and Tom Kite by a single shot.

Nicklaus went eagle-birdie-birdie on the 15th, 16th and 17th as Seve Ballesteros squandered the lead by hitting his approach to the 15th into the water short of the green.

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Dry Spell: Jack Nicklaus' win in 1986 was his first victory in a major in six years

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

Handing over: Bernhard Langer (left) hands Nickalus his sixth Green Jacket

2) 1997 – Tiger Woods

Kite was again the runner-up 11 years later, but this time by an incredible 12 shots as Woods tore up the record books to claim his first major title. That had looked distinctly unlikely as the 21-year-old played the front nine of his opening round in 40, but he came back in 30 to lie just three shots off the lead.

A second-round 66 took Woods three clear of Colin Montgomerie, a lead he extended to nine shots after round three and a record 12 after a closing 69 made him the youngest ever winner at Augusta.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Passing the torch: Tiger Woods tore up the record books to win his first title at just 21-years-old

3) 2004 – Phil Mickelson

'I don't think any Masters will ever compare to the '86 Masters but, for me, this one does.'

That was the verdict of an emotional Mickelson after he had broken his major duck at the 47th time of asking. Mickelson had shared the lead with Chris Di Marco heading into the final round, but struggled to a front-nine 38 before a brilliant back nine of 31, culminating in a decisive birdie on the 18th, was enough to beat Ernie Els by a shot after the South African's excellent 67.

Crowd Pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Crowd pleaser: Phil Mickelson broke his major duck at the 47th time of asking

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

Only just: A decisive birdie on the 18th hole gave Mickelson the title by just a single shot

4) 1995 – Ben Crenshaw

At 43, Crenshaw was not quite as old as Nicklaus in 1986, but his second Masters title in 1995 was equally remarkable and emotional.

Harvey Penick, who was Crenshaw's golf coach since he was seven years old, had died the week before and Crenshaw spent the Tuesday of Masters week at Penick's funeral in Austin, Texas.

The image of Crenshaw doubled over in grief and happiness after his final putt dropped – he did not have a single three-putt in 72 holes – has become an iconic Augusta image.

Ben Crenshaw

Ben Crenshaw

Emotional: Ben Crenshaw is hugged by his caddy Carl Jackson after winning for the second time at AQugusta National. Harvey Penick, who had coached Crenshaw since he was seven, died a week before the tournament

5) 1996 – Nick Faldo

Greg Norman had finished third behind Crenshaw in 1995, but it was the manner of his second-place finish to Nick Faldo the following year which was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Norman led from the outset after an opening 63, the joint lowest score ever in a major championship and only the second 63 ever at Augusta, and after adding rounds of 69 and 71 he was six shots clear of Faldo heading into the final round.

However, his lead was down to two shots by the turn and a back nine of 40 – despite two birdies – meant a closing 78 to Faldo's 67 and a five-shot winning margin for the Englishman.

Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo

Picking up the pieces: Nick Faldo took advantage of an awful final round from Greg Norman to win in 1996

Volvo Golf Champions unusual hole-in-one prizes: a digger and a truck!

Do you dig the prize for a hole-in-one at the Volvo Champions (Yes, it's an excavator!)

By
Chris Cutmore

PUBLISHED:

17:16 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:16 GMT, 10 January 2013

The European Tour raises its curtain for 2013 at the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban today, and there are some rather unusual prizes up for grabs.

A car is on offer for any player managing to score a hole-in-one on the 156-yard par-three 12th hole at Durban Country Club. So far, so ordinary.

But, come the 15th things get a little more interesting. Anyone who shoots an ace on that 170-yard par-three will land themselves not a car, but an excavator worth 32,000.

And finally, anyone who somehow negotiates the 273-yard par-four 18th in just one shot will save themselves the 93,000 they were sure to spend anyway on a shiny new truck.

Up for grabs: Padraig Harrington tees off on the 12th hole in front of the more traditional prize of a car

Up for grabs: Padraig Harrington tees off on the 12th hole in front of the more traditional prize of a car

Keep on trucking: Colin Montgomerie plays an approach with the big prize in the background

Keep on trucking: Colin Montgomerie plays an approach with the big prize in the background

Under construction: Ernie Els and Nicolas Colsaerts walk past the excavator at Durban Country Club

Under construction: Ernie Els and Nicolas Colsaerts walk past the excavator at Durban Country Club

The event is a tournament of champions, with the field made up of those who have won on Tour during the previous year or who have accumulated 10 or more titles in their career.

Those teeing it up in South Africa this week include Ernie Els, Paul Lawrie, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke.

Volvo Golf Champions Leaderboard

Click here to see all the latest scores

And the good news is that, with no halfway cut due to a limited field, each player will get 12 attempts at winning the big prizes.

One man who's got his eyes on that digger is home favourite Louis Oosthuizen.

The 2010 Open champion said: 'I saw one of these on display at the start of this year during the Volvo Golf Champions at Fancourt.

'At the time I thought how useful one would be on my farm, so to have the chance of winning one for myself is a fantastic incentive.'

Sportsmail wonders if Monty has his eyes on that digger…

Colin Montgomerie worries European stars" defection to PGA Tour could weaken Ryder Cup defence

Monty worries European stars' defection to PGA Tour could weaken Ryder Cup defence

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UPDATED:

19:39 GMT, 18 December 2012

Colin Montgomerie says that steps need to be taken to encourage Europe's stars to play more in Europe.

Ten of September's successful Ryder Cup side – all bar Paul Lawrie and Francesco Molinari – will be members of the PGA Tour in America next season.

Montgomerie, whose induction next year into the World Golf Hall of Fame was announced today, is a member of the European Tour's tournament committee and said: 'It's very difficult and we have to sit down and try to address this.

Miracle at Medinah: Europe's victorious Ryder Cup stars celebrate in Chicago

Miracle at Medinah: Europe's victorious Ryder Cup stars celebrate in Chicago

'Sponsorship is getting harder and the first thing a sponsor asks is “who's playing”. He wants as many Ryder Cup players as possible.

'It's important for the future of European golf.'

Tom Watson spoke last week after being named as United States captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup about the edge Europe gains by staging the match on courses well-known to their players.

The 2014 match is at Gleneagles in Scotland, but although a European Tour event has been held there every year since 1999 it does not always attract the top names.

Honour: European Ryder Cup hero Colin Montgomerie (right) was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Tuesday

Honour: Colin Montgomerie (right) is now a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame

This August, for example, the only members of Jose Maria Olazabal's side who played there – even though it was the final qualifying event – were Lawrie, Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts.

Montgomerie led the side at Celtic Manor two years ago and admitted today he was disappointed that more of his side did not play the Wales Open on the course four months earlier. Only seven of the 12 were there.

'We need to get our team to Gleneagles. We have to have that advantage,' the Scot said. 'In 1997 our biggest advantage was Valderrama. The Americans had three days to prepare, we had 10 years.'

Tom Watson to captain United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles

Captain America! United States to drop Ryder Cup bombshell by naming legend Watson as skipper for Gleneagles

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UPDATED:

10:06 GMT, 12 December 2012

Surprises don't happen often when it comes to announcing Ryder Cup captains but the PGA of America will come up with a jaw-dropping one on Thursday when they name Tom Watson as US skipper for the match at Gleneagles in 2014.

Captains on both sides for the past 15 years have all come from a narrow profile of players in their late 40s or early 50s.

'We've done something a little bit different this time,' Ted Bishop, PGA of America president, teased the US media at a lunch on Tuesday.

Leader: Tom Watson will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014

Leader: Tom Watson will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014

No-one thought he meant as different as Watson, who will have celebrated his 65th birthday by the time the match comes around.

While the decision will undoubtedly spark incredulity and astonishment in some quarters, it looks an inspired move from this one.

The last time America won on foreign soil was in 1993 when Watson just happened to be the captain at The Belfry.

Think about what has happened since. The last four US captains for away matches have been Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, Tom Lehman and Corey Pavin, who were up against Seve Ballesteros, Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie respectively.

Tartan Army: Scottish golf fans love Watson - he won four Opens north of the border

Tartan Army: Scottish golf fans love Watson – he won four Opens north of the border

In other words, four US skippers with little profile in Europe who were all monstered when it came to the vital PR battle against four huge personalities.

America effectively found themselves a couple of points down in each instance before the matches had even started.

So no wonder the PGA of America looked at the widely expected line-up for next time of the immensely popular Darren Clarke against the relatively unknown David Toms and wearily thought to themselves: we've seen this movie before.

Now, in going for a legend who could not be held in higher esteem in Europe, they have changed the dynamic completely.

Watson, lest we forget, won four of his five Open titles in Scotland, where he might even be more popular than Andy Murray. How does Europe counter that one

Where Watson might struggle is that he will not know a great deal about most of the players who will make up his team.

This was one of the complaints about Sir Nick Faldo's captaincy in Kentucky in 2008.

Squaring up: Darren Clarke (right) is set to captain Europe - following on from Jose Maria Olazabal (centre)

Squaring up: Darren Clarke (right) is set to captain Europe – following on from Jose Maria Olazabal (centre)

The argument against that is that Watson has always been much more of a people person than the aloof Englishman. He might not know much about their music tastes and their personalities, but it is hard to imagine there will be a member of the US team who won't look up to Watson and respect his decisions.

Well, maybe there is one. In 2010, at the height of the Tiger Woods scandal, Watson was scathing in his criticism.

'I feel that Tiger has not carried the same stature as the other great players that have come along like Jack (Nicklaus), /12/12/article-2246805-05C54D86000005DC-660_634x408.jpg” width=”634″ height=”408″ alt=”Fairytale: Watson was so close to winning The Open at Turnberry in 2009 before Stewart Cink pipped him” class=”blkBorder” />

Fairytale: Watson was so close to winning The Open at Turnberry in 2009 before Stewart Cink pipped him

Playing in the Australian Open last week, everyone wondered why an Aussie writer asked Watson how he would feel about being Ryder Cup captain once more. Now the journo looks like a positive sage.

'It would be pretty cool,' said Watson. 'I would like to go back again as a captain. It would be a great honour if I got tapped on the shoulder.'

Northern Irishman Clarke, the overwhelming favourite to be standing in the opposite corner at Gleneagles, is playing in Australia this week and said: 'Obviously if Tom does get it he is one of the legends of the game. I am sure he would be a fantastic captain, not just to the team but that whole aspect of the Ryder Cup. The man is a huge name in the world of golf and rightly so.'

Watson's four Open wins in Scotland came at Carnoustie in 1975, Turnberry in 1977, Muirfield in 1980, and Royal Troon in 1982.

He came close to winning again at Turnberry in 2009 and writing one of the great sports stories of all time at the age of 59 but missed a short putt at the 72nd hole and then lost out in a play-off to Stewart Cink.

Interestingly, in four Ryder Cup teams as a player and one as a captain, he has never been on a losing side.

Given that America have lost seven of the last nine contests, no wonder he got the nod.

The man who will feel most disappointed is the personable Toms, but expect him to be chosen for the match at Hazeltine in 2016.

Unless America win at Gleneagles, of course. In which case it will probably be Arnold Palmer.

Lyle follows Torrance, Montgomerie and Lawrie into Scottish Hall of Fame

Lyle follows Torrance, Montgomerie and Lawrie into Scottish Hall of Fame

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UPDATED:

00:40 GMT, 2 November 2012

Two-time major champion Sandy Lyle will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Scottish Golf Awards.

Lyle will be granted the honour at a
celebration of Scottish Golf's achievements over the past 12 months on
March 1, 2013 in Glasgow, 25 years after winning The Masters at Augusta.

Top man: Sandy Lyle

Top man: Sandy Lyle

The 54-year-old, who also won the 1985 Open and featured in five Ryder Cup tournaments, said: 'It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award from the Scottish golfing public.'

Lyle will follow Sam Torrance, Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie into the Hall of Fame.

Oscar Pistorius golfing at Dunhill Links: Sprinter terrified by dancing

Gold-winning sprinter Pistorius picks up the clubs and reveals dancing terror

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UPDATED:

17:54 GMT, 3 October 2012

Oscar Pistorius said the most petrifying three minutes of his life had nothing to do with the Olympics or Paralympics.

The 25-year-old amputee sprinter, who has switched to golf in Scotland this week as one of the celebrities at the Dunhill Links Championship pro-am, said: 'I had to do a 'Dancing with the Stars' thing last year in Italy.

'I would like to have two left feet, but I have no feet at all! That for me was by far the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever done.

Challenges: Oscar Pistorius revealed his dancing ordeal

Challenges: Oscar Pistorius revealed his dancing ordeal

'It was 157 seconds of absolute torture – but a lot of fun.'

Pistorius partners Paul McGinley at Carnoustie on Thursday alongside Colin Montgomerie and Sir Steve Redgrave and has warned them not to expect too much.

'My golf is rubbish at the moment and I've got quite a dodgy game as it is. Yesterday I shot 88 or 89 and today (in his final practice round) I shot closer to triple digits.'

Building: Pistorius is trying to improve his golf game

Building: Pistorius is trying to improve his golf game

Pistorius, who had a double below-the-knee amputation as a baby after being born without a fibula in either leg, was bought his first set of clubs as a teenager, but running soon took over his life.

He competed in the London Olympics in both the 400metres and 4x400m relay and then won two golds at the Paralympics to take his career total to six.

The man known as 'Blade Runner' is aiming for the 2016 Games in Rio and then possibly one more year of competition after that.

One more shot: Pistorius wants to compete in Rio

One more shot: Pistorius wants to compete in Rio

He added: 'I'll be 30 then, so it's fairly early for a sprinter, but I've been running since I was 17 and internationally since 2007.

'It's a very demanding career and I would like to get involved in other aspects of my life, in humanitarian work and family life.'

Ryder Cup 2012: Jack Nicklaus serves up painful reminder to Colin Montgomerie

Tee Room: Golden Bear serves up a painful reminder for Monty

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UPDATED:

23:43 GMT, 30 September 2012

As if watching Europe struggle to retain the trophy he led them to two years ago wasn’t bad enough, Colin Montgomerie had salt rubbed in the wound by Jack Nicklaus.

As the pair sat together in the commentary box, Nicklaus declared: ‘You’ve got to win some majors to be rated,’ before cheekily adding: ‘Oh, sorry Colin.’

Rubbing salt in the wound: 14-time major winner Nicklaus (centre)

Rubbing salt in the wound: 14-time major winner Nicklaus (centre)

Breakfast beers!

Hardly surprising there have been a few drunken oafs around considering the first outlet incoming spectators got at Medinah was a man selling bottles of the local brew from a box.

His sales pitch was a cheerful ‘Breakfast beers, breakfast beers! If you don’t start in the morning you can’t drink all day!’

Iron out whinges, Lee

Lee
Westwood was among those whingeing about the greens – a vested interest
after his feeble pairing performances perhaps – complaining that they
have speeded up unusually after lunch.

It is true, however, that the greens were ‘ironed’ on Friday between foursomes and fourballs, and nobody told the Europeans.

In the dark: Westwood was unhappy that the greens were ironed out

In the dark: Westwood was unhappy that the greens were ironed out

Check this lot out…

One of the most staggering sights of the Ryder Cup has been the merchandise tent.

As long as a football pitch and more than half one’s width, the norm has been a queue 100 yards long to get into the snaking lines of the paying area, where 85 assistants are on the check-out desks.

This temple of consumption dwarfs its equivalent at The Open.

Barack is Bushwhacked

Former US Presidents George Bush and George W Bush were supporting the Americans this weekend and gave a pep talk on Saturday night. Barack Obama was invited but despite deep local connections said he was otherwise engaged.

After taking flak for the amount of golf he plays he might not have wished to come too near anyway.

You'll never putt alone

Two things you never knew about Keegan Bradley, whose Ryder Cup exploits have made him a superstar in American golf – even if taking on world No 1 Rory McIlroy on the final day proved a step too far.

Up to the age of 13 Bradley was among the most outstanding ski racers in mountainous Vermont before turning to his talents to the game of golf instead. His Christian names are Keegan Hanson – but there is no Liverpool connection.

Ryder Cup 2012: Europe must prove they can overcome USA home crowd

The time for trash talk is over… Europe's finest must prove they can be pitch perfect

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UPDATED:

21:37 GMT, 27 September 2012

At the end of this sporting summer, where one moment of a lifetime has followed another, is it too much to ask for a glorious encore that stands comparison

Fortunately, we might just have one with the 39th Ryder Cup, a contest that promises three days of mesmerising drama and unspeakable tension.

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

Keepy-uppy: Europe star and world No 1 Rory McIlroy shows off his football skills on the 17th tee

It's tee time!

At 7.20am in Medinah (1.20pm UK time),
a very nervous European will tee off to kick-start the 39th Ryder Cup.
So how does it feel to stand on that first tee with the eyes of the world on you It’s a jelly-legs moment, as these players recount.

Colin Montgomerie
(Oak Hill, 1995)

‘The pressure facing the first shot
is as intense as it gets. It became an achievement just to stand up. I
was just gulping air like mad. The electricity was fantastic. Nick
Faldo, my playing partner, said it was a three-wood, so I teed the ball
down, took a practice swing and, thankfully, managed to make contact,
which is all you can really ask for in those situations.’

Corey Pavin
(The Belfry, 1993)

‘I can’t even describe how nervous I
was. I put the tee in the ground and I went to put the ball on and
realised my hand was shaking so much. I decided to just drop the ball,
hoping it would stay on the tee. Thank goodness it did. I was able to
compose myself and hit a drive down the middle.’

Nick Faldo
(Lytham St Annes, 1977)

‘Peter Oosterhuis told me I’d be
first. I was a bag of nerves and decided to go off and calm down by
hitting 20 extra five and six irons. Of course, when I stepped on the
tee I saw instantly it was a four-iron shot. I missed the green.
Thereafter, it was the first time I’d ever experienced my stomach
churning for a whole round.’

The game and its supporters stand ready
to make their own, unique contribution. Nowhere else would you find
50,000 people prepared to gather at a shade after 7am to make an unholy
racket. Nowhere else are sportsmen asked to strain every sinew for the
best part of 12 hours and then come back the next day and do it all over
again, with no monetary reward but the chance of something far more
precious: points for their team.

Here we have a course set up to demonstrate just how good the best players from the United States and Europe have become. With no rough, the bombers on either team are going to have no qualms in firing off howitzers. Around the greens, the great short-game merchants are going to relish the tight lies that offer the chance to show off and chip in. The putting surfaces are so pure, the wizards with the short stick cannot wait to weave their spell.

There is a lot of nonsense spoken about setting up a course to favour one side over the other but what America’s captain Davis Love has done is create the conditions for an extravaganza of attacking play in the knowledge that this offers him his best chance of fully involving the crowd, the so-called ‘13th man’.

Boy, is it likely to be loud. At the gala dinner on Wednesday, brilliant compere Justin Timberlake (best line: ‘I’m so into golf that the first time I heard them talk about a pop superstar obsessed with wearing a white glove, I assumed they meant me.’) was extolling the virtues of Europe’s captain, Jose Maria Olazabal. Suddenly, a lone voice yelled: ‘Goin’ down, baby!’ It prompted an extended chorus of ‘USA! USA!’ that almost took the roof off.

That will be sweet music to the likes of Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, of course. The noisier the better as far as they are concerned. They are accustomed to playing in front of large, excitable crowds, and never happier than when someone lays down a challenge.

Passion: Fans cheer at the start of the opening ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club

Passion: Fans cheer at the start of the opening ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club

Mo problem: American fans show off their patriotic moustaches on Thursday at Medinah

Mo problem: American fans show off their patriotic moustaches on Thursday at Medinah

Ryder Cup bingo!

Seven items to mark off on your card on day one…

6.01am
With the gates open, the first sighting of someone dressed head to toe in Stars and Stripes.

6.45am
The first chant of the ever-imaginative ‘USA, USA!’ Europe fans respond with football-style ditties.

7.20am
Players
arrive on the first tee, with the colour drained from their faces as
they are about to play golf’s most nerve-racking opening shot.

7.31am
The first annoying shout of ‘Get in the Hole!’ is heard on the first green.

8.30am
Initial sighting of Ian Poulter’s eyes bulging out on their stalks as he starts to get his putter going.

11.20am

Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal submit their afternoon pairings. Tactical geniuses or Captain Calamities

2.00pm

With the fourballs having gone off, the first reports come in of
European players being abused by the odd home supporter fresh from a
bibulous lunch.

But what about the unsung men on the
team, the honest souls who largely ply their trade in quiet corners of
the European Tour, where the galleries restrict themselves to a
smattering of applause and the odd moment of vocal encouragement

Look
back through the annals and the difference between winning and losing
often comes down to how these players rise to the challenge on Sunday.
They are usually ‘hidden’ somewhere in the middle of the order but there
is no hiding place when the fate of the Ryder Cup comes down to your
match.

Think back to how Eamonn Darcy met the challenge in 1987, Christy O’Connor Jnr in 1989, Philip Walton in 1995 and Paul McGinley in 2002. Europe’s destiny this weekend might well lie in how the unheralded continental members of this team handle the atmosphere.

Thank goodness the action is about to start, because frankly some of the players have not covered themselves in glory in the build-up. Yes, we know where Poulter and Brandt Snedeker are coming from. But do we really need to hear inflammatory rhetoric like ‘killing the opposition’ from Poulter, or ‘beating their brains in’ from Snedeker No prizes for phraseology, chaps.

Let us hope the partisanship does not
overstep the mark. Offering encouragement is the fact that Chicago is
undoubtedly one of the friendliest big cities in America. At the gala
dinner, Luke Donald got a wonderful hometown reception while the roar
that greeted McIlroy’s entrance was only a shade behind that afforded US
superstars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

United under one flag: European fans are heavily outnumbered but can match their hosts for excitment

United under one flag: European fans are heavily outnumbered but can match their hosts for excitment

Hair-raising: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal signs autographs for a group of fans on the 18th hole

Hair-raising: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal signs autographs for a group of fans on the 18th hole

The basics

The winner of each match
earns a point. There is half a point each if a match is halved. There
are 28 points on offer, so 14 points wins the cup. At 14-14, the
defending team (Europe) retain the cup.

Schedule

Friday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Saturday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Sunday — 12 singles matches.

Format

Fourballs
Two players on either side, four balls in play. The player with the lowest score wins the hole for his team.

Foursomes
Two
players on either side but only one ball is used by each pair as
players hit alternate shots. The team with the lowest score wins the
hole.

Singles
Captains list their players from 1 to 12. They then play against their opposite numbers.

But you can guarantee the likes of
Mickelson and Bubba Watson will be doing plenty of arm-waving, intent on
whipping up the atmosphere. They will want it every bit as
uncomfortable for the Europeans as it was for the Americans at Celtic
Manor.

Shadowing the proceedings, of course, will be the spectral presence of Seve Ballesteros in this, the first Ryder Cup since his death. It is a great sadness to those of us lucky enough to have witnessed Seve and Ollie’s great moments on the course that the pair are not walking in tandem off it here. But on this, the 25th anniversary of the first time they played together in the Ryder Cup, you can be sure the memory of Seve will be instilled in Olazabal’s every thought and deed.

‘What did I learn from Seve You
always try your hardest and you never, ever give in.’ You could see
Olazabal repeating that message in his final words to his team, couldn’t
you

And so the sporting
year that none of us really want to end has reached its final, great
occasion — and it is that time of a preview when a correspondent is
required to make a prediction. This one really is so close to call.
Europe have most of the best partnerships and America have the
formidable advantage of home soil.

Only
once in the last seven Ryder Cups has the home team not won, so that is
the scale of the task facing the away side. But, in the spirit of
Seve, let’s go with the heart.

Let’s go with Europe.

Home advantage: America's (left-right) Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

Home advantage: America's (left-right) Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson

Ryder Cup 2012: Jose Maria Olazabal mixes up pairings in final practice

Will he risk it Olazabal mixes up pairings in final practice ahead of Ryder Cup tee-off

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UPDATED:

14:15 GMT, 27 September 2012

Jose Maria Olazabal mixed things up on Thursday for Europe's final nine-hole practice session on the eve of the Ryder Cup in Chicago.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy was no longer with regular partner Graeme McDowell, but with Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer instead as Europe's captain rang the changes.

McDowell went out with Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Francesco Molinari, while the first group was Lee Westwood, Paul Lawrie, Peter Hanson and Belgian newcomer Nicolas Colsaerts.

Mixing it up: Jose Maria Olazabal mixed up his pairings during the final practice

Mixing it up: Jose Maria Olazabal mixed up his pairings during the final practice

Europe's defence of the trophy begins with foursomes on Friday morning and it is widely expected McIlroy and McDowell will be back in the harness and that Donald and Garcia – unbeaten in six games together in that format – will again be partners.

Close friends Rose and Poulter played together in 2008, winning two of their three games, and practised together the first two days at Medinah.

If those three are fixed in Olazabal's head then the biggest decision he has to take for the start of the match is who to put with Westwood, unbeaten in his last 10 foursomes going back to 1999.

In that time Westwood has partnered Darren Clarke, Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Kaymer and Donald.

Gamble Olazabal is likely to stick with his original combinations

Gamble Olazabal is likely to stick with his original combinations

Of the remaining players Scot Paul Lawrie has the experience of playing an away match, but that was in 1999, while Hanson and Kaymer made their debuts last time.

As the debutant big-hitting Colsaerts is expected to be given the chance to soak up the atmosphere in the foursomes before being introduced for the afternoon fourballs.

The foursomes pairings are announced at the opening ceremony later on Thursday.

To give his side more rest he decided to limit yesterday's practice to the front nine and the final tune-up to Medinah's inward half.

Jose Maria Olazabal warns his players to be careful on Twitter during Ryder Cup

Don't be Twits! Olazabal warns Ryder Cup colleagues to be careful on social networks

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UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 26 September 2012

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal has warned his players to be careful over their use of Twitter during the Ryder Cup in Chicago.

Olazabal has not attempted to issue a blanket ban over the use of social networking sites, but reminded his team to bear in mind how their comments can be interpreted.

Watch out: Jose Maria Olazabal has told his team to be cautious

Watch out: Jose Maria Olazabal has told his team to be cautious

'I'm not banning any member of the
team,' Olazabal said at Medinah, where Europe will attempt to retain the
trophy and make it five wins in the last six contests.

'What I've said to them is that they have to be careful on what they say, how they say it and when they say it. I'm sure that any comments that are made on Twitter are not intended in a bad way, but if you take the sentence out of context, it might look completely different.

Chat: Olazabal talks with Darren Clarke

Chat: Olazabal talks with Darren Clarke

'In that regard, the boys need to be a little bit cautious about it.'

Two years ago at Celtic Manor, there was some confusion over whether captain Colin Montgomerie had issued a ban, with the Scot then clarifying that he had asked players that 'respect is shown for what is said within the team room.'

Montgomerie added at the time: 'It's not a ban because if somebody does it how can you punish someone for it'